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Fashion houses have historically lacked representation, but a new generation of trailblazers is on a mission to challenge the status quo within the industry. Pamela Culpepper is among those driving change recently joining the Prada Group’s Board of Directors.

The appointment marks the first time a Black woman has sat on the brand’s board in its 109-year history. Culpepper’s work sits at the intersection of human resources, diversity and inclusion and talent management. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock alum has held executive roles at corporations that include McKesson, PepsiCo and Cboe Global Markets. Three years ago, she co-founded Have Her Back, a consulting company designed to advance equity in the workplace.

Prada tapped Culpepper for her expertise in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). She says she looks forward to helping the brand advance its commitment to corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

“People who know me and know what Prada stands for quickly see what connects us–status quo is simply not an option. I’m proud to be a part of that challenge,” Culpepper told ESSENCE. “One of Prada’s principles is to go where the risk is. Prada has stepped out front to lead the industry in ESG. It would be easier to fast follow, but that would be counter to both of our instincts. Prada is at the intersection of authentically connecting their values and purpose with the needs and will of their key stakeholders. My role is to help strategically navigate that intersection.”

She was appointed alongside Anna Maria Rugarli. Lorenzo Bertelli, who serves as the Prada Group’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, shared Culpepper and Rugarli’s insight and contributions will “be crucial for the Board and for the deployment of Prada’s sustainability strategy.”

Culpepper’s milestone comes at a time when there is a need for more racial and gender representation on corporate boards. Research shows women of color hold a mere 4.6 percent of board seats in the Fortune 500.


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